Blackcap as Totem

This totem has the awesome honour of being a patron of Italian culture and the arts. I mean, in general, it’s an awesome bird – but did you know that something so tiny has inspired a lot of artists? What a wonderful, and overlooked, totem animal.

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BLACKCAP as TOTEM

Blackcap as Totem by Ravenari

REPRESENTING:

Sharing your song with others, possessing a sweet voice, knowing how to persuade others, the pen is mightier than the sword, learning new ways of expressing yourself, respecting religious pathways, enjoying sacred spaces, adapting to significant changes to your environment, being fond of myths and legends, associations with St. Francis, connection to Italian culture and crafts, muse.

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GENERAL DESCRIPTION

The blackcap is a widespread, common passerine warbler found in Europe, western Africa and Europe. They are sexually dimorphic, and have a unique colour pattern for warblers. The male is grey with a distinct black cap, the female has a brown cap. They prefer to forage and hunt in shady woodlands, and nest in groundcover, preferring low shrubs. Their song is pleasant, chattering, with occasional clear notes; isolated blackcap populations can show marked differences in style and complexity of song. The blackcap is more hardy than other warblers, taking berries as well as insects when the weather gets tough. The blackcap is partially migratory, but recently some have been changing their wintering habits due to the availability of human food and gardens and recent environmental changes; the birds that are not migratory have higher survival rates than those that are. In some cultures, the blackcap is consumed as a food and considered a delicacy. Blackcaps have long inspired Italian writers, who knew the bird as La Capinera. They are associated with St. Francis in the opera Saint Francois d’Assise.

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Blue Eared Pheasant as Totem

I love writing totem files for the less common animals. I think I may have been the only person to write a totem file about the blue-eared pheasant, but you never know! They seem like awesome birds.

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BLUE EARED PHEASANT as TOTEM

Blue Eared Pheasant as Totem by Ravenari

REPRESENTS

Sibling rivalry, enjoying wild weather, feeling invigorated during cold or snowy weather, mountain wisdom, forest wisdom, having a profound connection to trees and plants, being feisty when pushed, coping well in times of crisis, being the one to depend on when things go wrong, taking advantage of opportunities as they present themselves, rooting around to get to the cause of the problem.

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GENERAL DESCRIPTION

The blue eared pheasant is a large, blue-grey pheasant, with a black grown, red wattles, yellow iris, long white ear coverts and crimson legs. They are among the most common of eared pheasants. They are sexually dimorphic with the male being larger than the female, but are otherwise quite similar. They are found in the mountain forests (Himalayas) of central and northern China, where they do very well in cold and snowy weather, and seem to enjoy inclement weather. Primarily eat berries and vegetable matters, but are opportunistic feeders. They root around by nature, and can destroy smaller plants in the process. They enjoy mud and dust-baths. Blue eared pheasants are hardy. They are monogamous, and reach sexual fertility in their first year. Males will often display a lowered wing to signify size and dominance. Chicks are lively, rambunctious, bold and look like they are smiling. If over-crowded, they will become violent and cannibalistic, killing their siblings. Males will become quite aggressive and attack other species during breeding season.

Brown Honeyeater as Totem

The second installment for today.

These guys have been visitors to my Mum’s gardens for as long as I can remember. I haven’t seen any in my garden yet, but that’s because it’s a new suburb and I’m not sure what the brown honeyeater population is like; I do see other nectar feeders though. They are drab-looking birds, to be certain, but they have lovely personalities, and a lovely call.

These guys are a fantastic totem animal for people who work with balancing the chakras, or who fall out of balance very quickly. Their habits are all about achieving the right balance, and being selective about what energy you allow into your body. Also fantastic for people who are making shields that let certain things in, and not others.

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BROWN HONEYEATER as TOTEM

Brown Honeyeater as Totem by Ravenari

REPRESENTING –

Balance, knowing how to balance your energy, being selective about how you receive and give out your energy, singing your song, possessing the ability to balance the energy of others, the unobtrusive healer, seeking and finding clarity, getting what’s yours, flowers are healing, an affinity with flower essences and flower foods at this time, learning to be happy with blending into your surroundings.

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GENERAL DESCRIPTION

The brown honeyeater is a small, grey-brown bird with a yellow tuft behind the eye, found in western, northern and eastern Australia. It is considered common and widespread, and populations are on the rise in urban environments. Brown honeyeaters live in a variety of different habitats provided they are close to a source of water; these habitats include mangroves, eucalypt woodlands and gardens. The brown honeyeater is mostly active in early morning, and seasonally nomadic within its territory, following the flowering plants and trees. It primarily feeds on nectar and will also take insects; it’s tongue is brush-tipped and specially adapted for mopping up nectar. Brown honeyeaters will also feed in small groups and flocks of mixed honeyeaters.

Brown honeyeaters maintain the same breeding territory each year, and nests are cup-shaped and woven from grass and tree-bark. They are acrobatic, busy and active birds, able to take insects on the wing and hover over nectar-providing flowers. They most prefer to feed in foliage and canopies, but will also feed on the ground. They have a distinct, beautiful, loud, clear song which is considered the best of all the honeyeaters. Some even consider it to be one of the best among Australian birds. They are predated upon by ants, pied currawong and their nests are parasitised by a variety of cuckoos.

European Pine Marten as Totem

Today you get two totems, since I fell behind!

The first:

EUROPEAN PINE MARTEN as TOTEM

European Pine Marten as Totem by Ravenari

REPRESENTING:

Forest and tree wisdom, the ability for trees and forests to be healing places, possessing great wit and cunning, being resourceful and capable of great lateral thinking when necessary, needing to chew something over, protecting your home and yourself, having a great sense of where your boundaries are, swiftness of action and movement, being exploited for what you have and what you do, keeping your body in good condition, general anxiety and fussing over things.

Leopard Shark as Totem

I love leopard sharks. I mean I love sharks in general, though. Because sharks are awesome. Also they have this very clear way of reminding us that the sea is their territory, and we will only ever be visitors.

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LEOPARD SHARK as TOTEM

Leopard Shark as Totem by Ravenari

REPRESENTS:

Finding your way through the dark, learning to respect and embrace tidal cycles, a time and place for everything, knowing when to go forward, and when to retreat, you cannot see clearly, rely on your other senses, using socialisation as protection, healing and nourishment, it’s okay to take your time, be wary and cautious, ocean wisdom, coastal wisdom, tidal wisdom.

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DESCRIPTION

The leopard shark is a marine species of hound shark found along the Pacific coast of North America. It has striking leopard-like markings of black-to-grey along it’s body, and juveniles have spottier markings. They are long, slender sharks, averaging 1.2 to 1.5 metres long. They are coastal predators generally found in the intertidal zone, in sometimes brackish or murky waters, and frequent bays, estuaries, sandflats, mudflats and rock-strewn areas; often in large schools with other species like smoothhounds and dogfish. Their hunting and activity is very powerfully influenced by the tides, they are opportunistic benthic feeders, eating sea worms, as well as clams, crabs, shrimp, bony fish and fish eggs. They cannot see very well, due to the murkiness associated in regions where they hunt.

They generally like to stay in a particular area, though some will travel, and will socialise with other leopard sharks of similar size and sex. Leopard sharks are very slow growing, and take many years to sexually mature. They are often caught for food and aquariums, as they pose no danger to humans and are wary by nature, and quick to flee.

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The full totem dictionary, representing 258 animals, can be found here

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I’m finally getting back into illustrating ‘as totem’ illustrations. The next four will be the PATAGONIAN MARA, the OKAPI, the BLACK MAMBA, and the KING COBRA. All will be available for sale, unless they get snapped up during the illustration process.

Marbled Polecat as Totem

These guys are freaking adorable.

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MARBLED POLECAT as TOTEM

Marbled Polecat as Totem by Ravenari

REPRESENTING:

Fighting back, putting on a good show, not being afraid to stand up for yourself, confronting what you fears you, seeking out problems before they find you, metaphorically and literally baring your teeth at threats, ripping what is inconvenient out of your life, being gutsy and bolshy, being able to sniff out drama, recharging on your own, maintaining your boundaries.

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DESCRIPTION

The marbled polecat is a small mustelid found in south-eastern Europe and western China. They are predominantly solitary, and maintain territories within which they are very active, rarely sleeping in the same den twice. They will often be aggressive to each other in encounters. They will use the dens of other burrowing animals and stay in underground irrigation tunnels, or dig out their own dens with their long, strong claws, using their teeth to remove roots and grasses. They are good climbers, but prefer to hunt on the ground. They are omnivorous, and eat many species of rodent, small hares, birds, lizards, fish, frogs and insects. They will also eat fruit, grass, kept birds (poultry and pigeons) and steal human food.

They are found in dry areas and grasslands, open desert, steppes, subtropical scrub forest, semi desert and rocky areas, they avoid mountainous regions. They are crepuscular in nature, and primarily use their strong sense of smell for hunting, possessing weak eyesight. They have a limited vocalisation range, emitting alarm cries, grunts, and submissive shrieks. When threatened, they can erect their fur and often stand on their hind legs and hiss; when pushed, they will emit a noxious odour from their anal glands. They were once sought after for their fur, and Kabul shopkeepers used to keep them to exterminate rodents. They are currently considered Vulnerable due to habitat and prey depletion.

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The file and the rest of the totem dictionary can be found here!

Red-Winged Blackbird as Totem

This was an interesting one. I don’t tend to read more generic totem meanings until after I’ve completed my own; that way I’m not unconsciously taking from anything that I haven’t researched or found myself. When I looked at other meanings however, I noticed that just about everyone who did refer to the red-winged blackbird said that it referred to goddess and feminist energies. This seems totally counter-intuitive, given what I know of the bird and its energy. The closest I came was reading a sense of sisterhood into the energy; but even that was a mild totem meaning, and not its strongest.

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RED WINGED BLACKBIRD as TOTEM

red winged blackbird as totem by Ravenari

REPRESENTING:

Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through, speak up, talk about what you believe in, communicate, let your love spread to many people, be wary of peer pressure (both receiving and doling out), changing habits and mannerisms amongst groups of people, being an opportunist, wetlands wisdom, group dynamics, the power of large groups of people, being visible, putting yourself out there, the middleworlds, drawing attention to yourself, being a part of a sisterhood.

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ABOUT

The red-winged blackbird is an abundant, well-studied songbird found in North and Central Merica. They are sexually dimorphic, with the males being black, with red and yellow shoulder patches that can be puffed or hidden, and duller, drabber females. The males are often sighted alongside roadsides, on high perches, in wetlands, on telephone wires and on cattails. They are found in open grassy areas, fresh and saltwater marshes (with a preference for those with cattail), wetlands, watercourses and other wet regions. They will also frequent crop fields, feedlots, meadows, prairies, old fields and pastures. Different subspecies vary greatly in size and proportion. Red-winged blackbirds will form huge flocks of several million birds, with other species of blackbird and starling, in order to consume grains and group forage. They are omnivorous and predominantly eat seeds and insects, and will also consume snails, frogs, eggs, carrion and other opportunistically taken animals and vegetation. They are strong, agile flyers.

Red-winged blackbirds are associated with the return of Spring, as migratory populations return early and sing frequently as the season returns. Males are extremely territorial (a quarter of their waking hours during breeding season is devoted to territory defense), and polygynous, having up to 15 female mates in their territory. Males will chase and mob animals much larger than they, including livestock and humans. Predated upon by many other birds, including raptors, owls, corvids and herons, as well as raccoons, mink, foxes and snakes. To prevent predation, red-winged blackbirds will make well-concealed nests over water, group-nest and sound alarm calls. The red-winged blackbird may be the most studied bird.

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You can find the full totem dictionary here, a free resource representing 258 animals.